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    Saturday, December 03, 2022

    ‘Weird: The Al Yankovic Story’ takes biopic myth and parodies it

    It only makes sense that Al Yankovic’s biopic would be a parody of biopics.

    So “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” is anything but the A-Z story of the song parodist who is perhaps not technically the best but arguably went on to become the most famous accordion player in an extremely specific genre of music. Take any music biopic, whether it’s “Walk the Line,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “Ray,” and give it the “Weird” Al treatment, and you’ve got this absurdist, playful, self-aware send-up of the man who took a gamble and risked it all to turn “Like a Virgin” into “Like a Surgeon.”

    Yankovic, who co-wrote the screenplay with director Eric Appel, isn’t much interested in mining the dramatic gold from his process of flipping pop songs into comedy songs. So he instead lampoons himself — a kid who “dreamed of making up new words to songs that already existed” — and turns his life into an over-the-top fantasy where he’s not only climbing the charts but dating the world’s hottest musician and knocking off Colombian drug lords while he’s at it.

    David Bloom plays young Alfred, who sings “Amazing Grapes” at the dinner table instead of “Amazing Grace.” His father (Toby Huss) wants him to work with him at the factory, not dabble in the devil’s music, but his mother (Julianne Nicholson) buys him his first accordion and sets him on his path.

    Along that path, Al — played as an adult by Daniel Radcliffe in a game, hilarious turn — meets his hero Dr. Demento (Rainn Wilson), who helps him achieve his dream. And then everything goes bad, a parody of every “Behind the Music” cliché from Mötley Crüe to REO Speedwagon.

    Any and all typical storytelling conventions are turned on their ear, while cameos pile up like a car wreck. Al begins dating Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood is a hoot as the Queen of Pop) and decides to leave song parodies behind to become a real artist. His bid for credibility is “Eat It,” and he’s well on his way to the artistic recognition and freedom for which he’s longed — until Michael Jackson comes along and parodies his song, turning it into “Beat It” and overshadowing him in the process.

    It’s that kind of movie, where facts are thrown out the window in favor of pure fun. You might not learn a lot about Yankovic the man, but you’ll learn plenty about his sense of humor — which, with Weird Al, has always been the point anyway. Eat it up.

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